Sunday, May 24, 2009

Brain Stimulation for Treatment Resistant OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic condition, affecting about 2.2 million Americans. People have intrusive, distressing thoughts that are relieved by engaging in compulsive behaviors. Most people receive at least some benefit with behavior therapy and/or medications. Some, however, are treatment resistant. The FDA recently approved Medtronic’s Reclaim Deep Brain Stimulator device for those who have failed to benefit from other treatments.

The Reclaim device is implanted under the skin of the chest and then connected to four electrodes in the brain. The electrodes deliver steady pulses of electricity to areas of the brain that control mood and anxiety. Similar devices have been used since the 1990’s to treat movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and tremors.

Many don't realize the impact OCD can have on people's lives. Minimally, those with OCD are miserable from the worries and the compulsions. It affects some to the extent of losing or preventing relationships. Others may be unable to work. Some are even unable to leave their homes.

“Reclaim is not a cure,” Dr. Daniel Schultz said in a statement. “Individual results will vary and patients implanted with the device are likely to continue to have some mild to moderate impairment.”

Behavior therapy for OCD is generally necessary for optimal benefit. Yet, no one is spending millions of dollars to refine this treatment and/or to teach these techniques to more therapists. Medications and medical treatments such as this will cost much more than behavioral treatments. The difference is that Big Pharma has millions to market the medical treatments.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens legislatively and otherwise with coming attempts at refining our medical and insurance systems. I'm afraid that it is unlikely that 40 years of research showing even one therapy session cuts down significantly on the number of medical visits and medical costs will push for this to happen. The safer bet is to stay where the money is, which suggests this won't change much, if at all.

For more information on OCD and treatments, go to and

Best wishes,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dietary Considerations for ADHD and Behavioral Difficulties

There have been many claims for restricted diets to eliminate ADHD. I remember Dr. Lendon Smith on the Phil Donahue 40 years ago (yikes!) who claimed that all ADHD and learning disabilities were the result of food colorings and food allergies. When these claims were put to rigorous studies, very few kids improved significantly. For a very few, it made a huge difference.

Since then, there have been many other dietary claims. Most studies have failed to substantiate these claims. However, there is a study published in Lancet and posted online at That study also references a meta-analysis (a technique of evaluating a number of different studies) that supports that ridding food colorings and food additives improves behavior.

Nonetheless, there are some frequent recommendations. The rationale is that while following these recommendations does not eliminate ADHD, it does help the brain function optimally. These and a few other recommendations were listed in the summer issue of ADDitudes magazine ( Their 10 recommendations are:

1. Lean protein.
2. Balanced meals.
3. Multivitamin/multimineral.
4. B vitamins.
5. Zinc, iron, and magnesium.
6. Omega-3s. Omegabrite is a flavored form that kids are more likely to tolerate. (Some research, but not conclusive)
7. Picamilon. (I did not find supporting research)
8. Ginko and ginseng. (Some research, but not conclusive)
9. Pycnogenol. (Some research, but not conclusive)
10. Rhodiola rosea. (I did not find supporting research)

Many parents are reluctant to for a medication trial. It is universally accepted that a balanced and healthy diet, as opposed to a fast-food diet is a good idea.

While studies fail to show that sugar makes much difference for most, many parents feel that it can make a huge difference for their child. KNOW YOUR CHILD. If sugar (or whatever) negatively affects your child, then monitor closely and act accordingly. Parents can further investigate and decide whether they want to try more restricted diets.

As always, discuss the use of herbs or supplements with your (or your child's) physician.

For more information on ADHD and a variety of treatments, go to ( and

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Affirmations for Anxiety and Worry

An affirmation is simply any positive statement that you say to yourself. Repeating these statements can help facilitate reprogramming your brain away from automatically going to and accepting negative thoughts. Affirmations are something that you use when you aren't especially anxious. Coping statements can be very similar, but are used more when you are especially anxious. Read through the list below and see if any seem to be a good fit or even where you would like to get to. If saying “I'm safe” is something you can't believe at this time, change the statement to “I'm working toward accepting the reality that I'm safe.” Better yet, for all of these statements, change the wording that may better fit YOU! Better still, write your own!

There are a number of ways to practice affirmations. Practice is the key. The more you practice, whether writing them out, saying them to yourself or out loud, the more you will benefit. Best to practice throughout the day. For further suggestions go to

I am safe

I let go of my “What If” thoughts.

I find it easier and easier to let go of my “What Ifs.”

I accept that Life = Uncertainty.

I find it easier and easier to breath through my anxious feelings.

I let go of all the things of which I have no control.

I fear not.

I find it easier and easier to let go of the worries that come to my mind

My symptoms are nothing more than a false alarm.

I refuse to let finances (or whatever...) determine my state of mind.

I trust in God. (If you don't, ignore this one)

Best wishes,
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